Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are completely the property of Paramount and Pet Fly Productions. I use them out of reverence, solely for fun and not for profit.

Rating: NC-17 (for potentially disturbing content)

Warnings: Permanent disability for a minor canon character. Reader discretion is advised.

Permutations and Combinations



It happened the night of Rafe's engagement party. I was there. So were all the others from Major Crimes, and I'd brought my lady D'Neice, and Joel's wife Elspeth had joined us, so Megan and Rhonda weren't alone among the distaff members. Simon and Jim are divorced and it's a case of once burnt, twice shy with them—except when Jim loses his head over some guaranteed-to-be-bad-to-the-bone good-looker who breaks his heart for him again. Blair could have had any number of dates, but he has a kinda gentlemanliness about him. I know, I know, a weird thing to come out of my mouth, but it's true. He knew this was a big deal for my partner, and Hairboy's the kinda guy who wouldn't bring just anyone along 'cause he'd consider that dissing Rafe, and he hasn't met a girl who isn't just anyone to him yet. I'm very glad to have met D'Neice—and before Hairboy did!

It was the kind of night that made me think about buying diamonds.

Rafe and Rory were glowing. Theirs was a whirlwind romance, the sort that makes you sit up and take notice. Love at first sight? Maybe. But the thing is, they're made for each other. It's kinda like Jim and Blair, you know? Not that Jim and Blair are a couple, but in their "partnership" on the force—Blair's actually just an observer, Jim's ridealong, but really, really, truthfully, he's Jim's partner—the two of them are so tight that no one would ever think of challenging Blair's position at Jim's side. They say opposites attract, and it was true for both Jim and Blair as, well, brothers in everything but name, and for Rafe and Rory, too.

You know Rafe, model handsome, dresses like a model, always in runway condition unless he mixes it up with some thug on the job or something. Once Blair dumped... But that's not real funny now. Nothing's real funny, now.

Rory, she's, well, different. She's more like Blair. A grade school teacher, Grade 2's, who dresses for success with her students—real casual and comfortable—rather than success with the school hierarchy. They all love her, the kids, I mean, and I think she's in good with the administration, but it took time. Took time for Blair too. A lot of parallels there. She's really, really gorgeous. Porcelain skin and huge cornflower blue eyes and blacker-then-midnight hair. Black Irish looks, I think it's called. Petite and built a little more generously than runway models are supposed to be built. But it's her smile that does it, really, more than anything else. She smiles like the evening star. I don't know how else to put it. Just, well, wonderful. She used to smile like that for Rafe all the time.

So, anyway, we're sitting there in D'Antonio's, toasting the happy couple, and Simon's on his feet trying to make a speech that won't embarrass him but will provide fodder for teasing Rafe later, when Jim gets that faraway look to him. We've all seen it and we're not sure what he's doing, it's like he's channelling some kind of information no one else can access. But Blair, he knows what it's all about and what to do, and a good thing too, because Jim would be lost without him and everyone knows it.

Back to the story. See, I'm having such a hard time telling it, I keep coming back to Jim and Blair. It hurts to say this. Hurts like hell. I know, I know, I have to, it's good therapy, but it... It's agony, and I'm the one looking on from the outside. Rafe—he's gotta live it, every day. God, it hurts.

Blair asks Jim what's wrong, and puts his hand out to touch his partner's shoulder. They do that a lot, a lot of casual touching, even more than Rafe and Rory. I'm avoiding again, aren't I?

So Jim says, there's a hit going down out there. He's sitting facing away from the street, so everyone looks around to see what he's talking about, we're in a private room with glass all around, you know?, and Elspeth leans over to ask Blair what Jim's talking about.

Blair shushes her and tells her Jim reads lips real well and was reading the lips of someone in the reflection in the glass, which was just plausible enough that everyone forgot about it when the... when it happened.

Jim suddenly ordered everyone who wasn't armed to duck down under the table, so everyone who wasn't armed, did. Megan's on the force, an Australian exchange program, and Blair stayed up, though he doesn't carry a piece, because that's what Hairboy does, backs up Jim, no matter what, official or not.

No, this time I'm not avoiding. I'm just telling it. Let me tell it in my own way, 'kay? Thanks. So Jim slips out with Blair behind him, and Jim's got his gun out, and Simon and Megan and Rafe and I are all spreading out around the main dining room when the hit goes down, or tries to.

Three perps burst in through the door with automatic weapons and the middle guy is trained on the mark, some fancy-dressed 'businessman' we don't recognise right away but who turns out to be a middle-level management type from one of the Cascade crime families. Someone disliked his manner of doing business, I guess.

Okay, okay, I'm getting to it. Simon and Megan fake to the left to take down Perp 2, Rafe and me to the right on Perp 3, Jim, with Blair behind him, on the middle guy. Well, Jim's the best there is when it comes to marksmanship, he's like a miracle man, and just as Simon's yelling "Freeze, police," and the weapons start coming up on us, he's shooting them out of the guys' hands. POW! POW! POW! And there was a POW! that wasn't Jim, but was one of the perp's guns going off.

That POW! then went Zing!, Ping! and Thud! The thud was when it hit Rafe. Ricocheted off a coupla things and hit my partner... I said I wasn't gonna cry when I told this, but I can't stop. Yeah, thanks. Just give me a minute, huh?

Okay, I think I'm together enough to say it now. It hit him where a man shouldn't be hit if he's getting married in a month, and it just about destroyed him. He, he's got the same kind of gentlemanliness that Blair has. A sense of honour. He kissed Rory goodbye. Told her he'd changed his mind, she wasn't the right woman for him, but they knew, and he told me, only me, his partner, it was the best thing for her. Second grade school teacher. Wanted kids of her own. That couldn't happen with Rafe, and he loved her more than he loved anything else in this world. Said he wouldn't take that away from her. Asked him about adoption, couldn't they do something, sperm donor, or something, and he just looked devastated and noble. She'd talked about carrying on the genes or something one time, and I guess she'd said something that made him believe only the good old-fashioned way of making babies was right for her.

If that was true, she wasn't the right woman for Rafe! I don't care how harsh that sounds. If Rafe isn't good enough for her now, she was never good enough for him in the first place!

Sorry. I'll replace the ashtray. I just... lost my temper there for a moment. I'm really sorry.

Huh? He's back on the force. Just as much a man in the eyes of everyone as he ever was, maybe even more, if they knew he'd blown Rory off for her own sake. But I see the sorrow, it's there in his eyes, every second of every day. I let him drive all the time now, kinda like deferring to his manliness. It's stupid, I know, but it's like the only support I can give him.

If only Rory... Shit, Blair'd never leave Jim if... Look, I have a phone call to make. I gotta know for my own peace of mind if she really is that way, that unworthy of Rafe's love, 'cause it didn't look like that to me at the start, and if he just didn't talk it over with her, well, maybe I can stop hating her.

Maybe. Maybe something else, something better, will come if I call her, too.

What do you think?

~ End ~

E-Mail Ismaro at ligela@sympatico.ca
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Page last updated 8/15/03.